A Local Observatory on Participatory Democracy (LOPD) is a meeting place, an area of interaction where different parties can reflect, debate, consult and make proposals on the challenges of participation. The underlying principle of these spaces is not to become technocratic structures or passive documentation centres, but to be active, inclusive platforms.
Three groups of players can be taken into account in an organisational model:
An LOPD network was created within the framework of the IOPD, linked from the start to the European Commission’s URB-AL Decentralised Cooperation Programme. Its origins date from October 2004 as a result of IOPD members’ interest in evaluating the quality of participatory experiences at the municipal level and incorporating components of citizen participation in evaluation processes so that citizens can play a more active role in municipal government.
The overall objective of the project was to create an LOPD network that would develop a methodology to evaluate participation from a wide variety of political, social, economic and regional perspectives. Ten LOPDs were set up in ten European and Latin American cities. They chose and developed their own goals and methodologies, depending on the needs and characteristics of their social realities, but always within areas of joint action.
The project carried out within the framework of the URB-AL Programme was concluded in April 2007.